Spread over seven islands, Ålesund is known as the ‘Adventure Capital of the Fjords’ and is a great launch pad to explore them. The town was recently voted the most beautiful town in Norway and is a great starting point for round trips to some of the country’s most spectacular sights. “Watch out Chamonix, Norway is fast becoming Europe’s new home for all things action!”
It’s easy to see why Norway is fast becoming a go-to adventure destination. Check out this awesome time-lapse film below:
Boat and Helicopter Adventures
If you’re after a relaxed adventure through the Fjords, then a cruise may be for you; Ålesund ‘s ‘Cruise Terminal’ allows for cruise ships of all sizes to be docked in the very centre of the town. Those looking for more adrenaline should check out ‘Outfitter 62 Nord’, who arrange coastal excursions in souped-up Zodiac power boats. Alternatively, if you have the budget, you can take to the sky for a 30 minute tour of the surrounding islands and mountain-ranges in a helicopter tour.
Mountaineering and Hiking
On land, there are plenty of adventures to be had. High on the to-do-list will be an ascent of Mount Aksla to the Fjellstua vantage point. At the top, there are stunning views across Ålesund, the surrounding islands, the fjords and the Sunnmøre Alps.
Another option is the ‘Trolls’ Path Road’, offering a day-long hike with a bit of a twist. The area that the trail covers is known as the ‘district of trolls and fairytales’, and from the wild mountains, roaring waterfalls and peaceful nature on this round trip it’s easy to see why.
An Ascent of the Sukkertoppen Mountain will appeal to more experienced mountaineers. From here you can view a never ending range of majestic snow-capped mountain ranges all-year-round.
Ålesund is situated at the heart of Norway’s freeride mountain bike scene, with trails beginning outside of town and spreading to the nearby Sunnmøre Alps. Bike rental is available in a number of locations to suit. Check out the below video exploring some of the Sunnmøre Alps’ freeride trails:
Heading to nearby Geiranger is also a good shout for mountain bikers. Here bikes can be rented at the Kragset Marina adventure resort and there are a number of guided tours available. A 2-day weekend tour is great for serious adventurers, but if you’re looking for something a little easier the ‘Sky to Fjord’ downhill biking tour will be perfect. The route is mostly easy downhill that can either be undertaken in early summer, with snow along the road, or later, when the mountain flowers are blossoming.
Nature and Wildlife
Norway is teaming with awesome wildlife for nature lovers to enjoy and Ålesund has a number of cool wildlife attractions that highlight this. The Bird Sanctuary on Runde Island, can be reached easily by boat and is home to more than half a million birds of about 230 different species! The town also offers a sea safari along the surrounding coastline in a high-speed open RIB boat. This trip normally includes a visit to a small seal colony as well as Runde’s famous bird cliff (not the sanctuary itself). For calmer waters fjord rafting is even possible, enabling a closer experience with Norway’s marine wildlife.
Skiing, Snowboarding and other Winter Sports
In the winter, Norway turns into a winter wonderland and there are loads of opportunities to get active with some winter sports.
Ørskogfjellet Ski Centre is a family friendly ski resort closely situated to Ålesund and has a very good reputation for beginners. More experienced skiers and snowboarders may take to the Stranda Ski Resort, higher up in the Sunnmore Alps. Here, there are a large range of downhill runs of various difficulties, a terrain park and perhaps the best off-piste opportunities in the area. Cross-Country enthusiasts can also enjoy 15 km/9 mi of groomed XC track and off-the-track snow-trails.
For people looking to get into the wild, there are also a number of adventure companies offering both guided ski touring and offpiste adventure.
Finally, if you’re looking for a completely unique winter adventure experience, then check out dog sledding, but you will have to travel further north than Ålesund to seek out the best locations. Finnmark is the most popular dog sledding area; this far north in winter you will find a white desert stretching as far as the eye can see, and only stars above your head (or the northern lights should you be lucky) courtesy of the long Arctic night. Most of the dog sledding tours here are actually offered by local people, rather than specific adventure companies, so it’s quite an intimate adventure.
Other Excursions and Adventure Activities
Ålesund is a perfect location for many different action sports, not just the ones listed above. Highlights include, sea kayaking and sailing, as well as rock climbing. A canyoning center can also be found near Ålesund, at Gudbrandsjuvet. Canyoning is great fun; cayoners make their way down a river bed or canyon by jumping into pools, sliding down natural river slides and scrambling across rock obstacles.
Diving is also popular, with the coast of Sunnmøre praised as a fantastic diving spot. Here, the currents in the coastal landscape pump in nutritious water from the Atlantic Ocean, nurturing an exciting underwater world with kelp forests, coral reefs and large shoals of fish. It’s worth noting that this underwater world can also be accessed, simply with a good set of fins and snorkelling gear, which is great if you’re not keen on a full dive.